Gov't probe urged on use of substandard steel in construction

Gov't probe urged on use of substandard steel in construction

MANILA, Philippines — The gained momentum last week as a consumer group and technology-based party list.

Consumer groups have called on the government anew to investigate allegations of continued selling of substandard construction materials, noting that they want to ensure that the local construction industry does not build infrastructure  that would be unsafe in the event of a high intensity earthquake.

The country experienced another strong tremor, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that hit Cotabato Tuesday night, and was felt in the Mindanao region. More than 100 aftershocks followed on Wednesday in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro, including in Toril, Davao.

 Consumers Union of the Philippines (CUP) president Rodel Taton said big  steel manufacturers have been making a windfall by replacing micro-alloyed (MA) steel rebars with quenched tempered (QT) steel – which is used to build hundreds of high rise structures throughout the country – without the knowledge of contractors, developers and various construction end-users.

AGHAM (Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan)  party-list also released a statement urging  the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to coordinate in ensuring that buildings, particularly high-rise structures, all over the Philippines, are not prone to collapse in case a high intensity earthquake strikes. 

 “The geographical location of the Philippines is the main reason why certain types of steel materials are not recommended for use in high-rise buildings,” said AGHAM party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones.

 “We note with concern that steel, in particular, being used to build  thousands of high rise structures in the country, are compromised,  putting the lives of thousands of Filipinos at risk,” the lawmaker said. “These substandard construction materials, particularly reinforcement bars (rebars), would not withstand a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.”

 Palmones expressed doubts about the use of QT, or “thermo-mechanically treated” (TMT) steel bars as reinforcing in high-rise buildings. These products,  he said, are potentially threatening tens of thousands of lives due to their  premature catastrophic failure under “cyclic loading” generated by earthquakes.

 Taton claimed said local steelmakers are making as much as P1.5 per kilogram by switching from the manufacture of MA to comparatively cheaper QT steel rebars. 

 “In return for this profit, these companies are risking the lives of many people who live in condominiums, work in high rise offices, and use government and private sector infrastructure that have been built using substandard steel,” he added.